I don't know about you, but when I hear the word "Peignoir" I instantly think of Doris Day twirling in one of her frilly two piece chiffon nightgown and robe ensembles. Let's be real, no one could rock a peignoir quite like Doris!
But Doris was certainly not the first to make the peignoir a household name - Jean Harlow, Lucille Ball, Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Ginger Rogers, and other Silver Screen actresses made the peignoir synonymous with Hollywood glamour.
But what exactly is a peignoir? Well, that's a very good question and one that even various dictionaries on the web have a hard time deciding how how to answer. Here are just a few of the definitions we found in our quick search:
But, the origin of the word Peignoir is something most everyone agrees on;
The original Middle French word, peignouoir means "garment worn over the shoulders while combing the hair." From the word peigner which means"to comb the hair."
So in the earlier days, a peignoir was literally a comfortable, loose fitting garment a woman would put on while she combed her hair. She would do this in the privacy of her bedroom so she would have only a nightgown or undergarments underneath. This private moment allowed women to relax from the confinement of corsets. The earlier peignoirs were purely practical but as time went on, they became more luxurious.
1812 Peignoir (Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection)
1880 Muslin Hungarian Peignoir (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
1874–77 French Peignoir (Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection)
1879 Peignoir (Museum at FIT Collection)
Peignoir by Doucet 1910 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Lucien Lelong French Peignoir 1948 (FIT collection)
As Peignoirs became more extravagant, they became popular as part of sets that included a matching nightgown. That's what most of us think of when we think of peignoirs. But the peignoir is just the robe, the nightgown is still called a nightgown! During the 20th century, peignoir sets became the gold standard for sleepwear. Lingerie manufacturers filled magazine pages with ads featuring a rainbow of flowing peignoirs paired with nightgowns and slips.
Munsingwear 1920's Peignoir
And if you couldn't manage to buy the dreamy sleepwear featured in those lingerie ads, you could make your own!
So, now you know that a peignoir is really, a robe and that peignoir sets are matching two piece robe and nightgown sets. Whatever you choose to call them, we think they are really special and, because you can find a style from almost every decade of the 20th century, they truly never go out of style!
Whether you prefer the Hollywood glamour of the 1930's, the tailored sophistication of the 1940's or the twirlable layers of the 1950's, we hope you will find the perfect vintage peignoir set and experience what it's like to lounge and sleep in style!